Monday, August 11, 2008

The Great Wall, an orphanage for special needs children and dinner with the fam.

The adventure continues...

After the competition I joined up with Dan, Ethan, Bonnie (my mom), Pam (Dan's mom), Al (my assistant coach and teammate), Dr. Summers (my Chiropractor and massage therapist) and his wife LeAnne and son Sean for a wonderful dinner at the Bank of America "hometown hopefuls". Greg Bishop of the New York Times joined us as we reflected on the days events. His article made the front page of the sports page! Check it out...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/11/sports/olympics/11weightlifting.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=melanie%20roach&st=cse&oref=slogin

I decided to stay with Dan, Ethan and our moms at an apartment we rented about 20 minutes from the village. It is a cute little 2 bedroom apartment. I could not fall asleep... imagine that! : ) I guess I was a little excited. I slept all of about 2 hours before it was time to get up and get ready for my first "off the Village" adventure in China.

We met up with Dr. Summers and the rest of the gang at 7:00 a.m. We rented a bus that took us to the Great Wall. It was about an hour and a half drive. We were met by an NBC crew. Julie Foudy was the commentator, she is a 3 time Olympian in soccer. They filmed the entire experience for a piece they are doing on Olympian moms in this years Olympics. Other moms featured will be Dara Torres of swimming and Jenni Finch of softball. It is expected to air on the 15th or 16th.

The Great Wall was amazing! I choked back the tears a bit because being there symbolized the completion of my Olympic Journey. It all still seems so surreal. We took a lot of pictures that I will put on the blog as soon as I can download them. I interviewed with Julie and then Ethan and I raced up one of the inclines. It felt so good to chase my son for the first time in 3 years with now fear of getting injured! Getting back down was the easiest part! We rode a toboggan all the way down! If I get a chance to go again I think I might. It really was a lot of fun!

Our next stop was back to the Bank of America "hometown hopefuls" for lunch and some R&R. Then Dan, Ethan, Pam and I joined up with the wonderful woman who we rented the apartment from. She volunteers for the Children's Hope International that runs an orphanage for children with special needs. It was the most touching thing I've ever done. I sat on the floor and snuggled with these sweet little children for over an hour. Talk about a life changing experience!

There was this one little boy Lulu who at first wanted nothing to do with me. Lulu is around 2 years old (they don't really know his real date of birth) and he has no knee caps and so his little legs are like stubs and his feet were very deformed and crooked. I put my hands out and he turned away. Then he saw me playing with another little boy. I reached over and tickled Lulu on the tummy and then he played a little cat and mouse with me and then he began requesting tickles. After a few minutes of that I put my hands out again and he reached for me and climbed into my lap. By the end of the 1 hour visit he wouldn't let me put him down. I can't believe how independent and determined this little guy was. He climbed up the slide with little help and wouldn't give up until he reached the top. He was smart and had the most beautiful smile. From the waist up he looked completely normal and his eyes spoke a million words! If I could have taken him home I would have! I think Dan had a huge fan too. This one little guy wrapped onto Dan's leg as we left. He was the size of a 2 year old but was 6 years old. He was attached to Dan from the moment we walked in. Ethan pretty much played with them all. It was really a humbling experience. I will never forget it!

After the Orphanage we met up with the rest of the group. I signed up the entire crew for an official "day pass" into the athletes' village. So, after a great deal of security we met up at the village for dinner. The dining hall is a very busy place now with nearly 10,000 athletes! The food was fantastic and the company was fantastic too! What a great day!

11 comments:

Marcie said...

Mel - I am so proud of you!! Your lifts were amazing and I love the huge smile plastered on your face after each one. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in Bejing with all of us. Your story about visiting the orphanage brought tears to my eyes. You are an amazing woman Mel and I am proud to be your friend. Much love to you and your family!
Love,
Marcie

Margo Clift said...

CONGRATULATIONS, CONGRATULATIONS, CONGRATULATIONS, AND MUCH LOVE.

cochum said...

Congratulations Melanie! We watched you on Sunday and I was so proud to see you do so well! I am sure glad I found your blog!

Sister Chumbley

Chrisstamom said...

Great article in the NY Times! You and Dan are so blessed to have each other! Keep that relationship #1...it is a great one! So proud of you! We have one of your McDonalds cups. Benson came home the other day and said, "Uh.....mom? Look who's on my cup!" I did a Happy Dance!

Shay said...

Hi! This post on the Olympics is great – thanks. Did you know you can grab live images from www.picapp.com - Check it out!

Mark said...

Mel,
We are so proud of you. It sounds like you are having a great time. You are getting tons of press! We are proud to be a small part of it. Let us know if you need anything.
-Mark, Bree, and Rob
Kodiak Solstix

kiddle97 said...

Melanie,
I just wanted to say how proud we are of you. You were so gracious in the interview you gave after your final, and you honestly looked like you were enjoying every minute of it. Congratulations, best wishes, and thanks again!

The Gang's All Here! said...

Great post! I had no idea so many Olympians were blogging. Glad to hear that you are enjoying all these experiences.

I love the part about the visit to the orphanage. We are currently waiting to travel to adopt a little baby girl with sn outside of Xian in Shaanxi. I'm sure you brought much love and joy, even for just a day, to the little ones you held and played with. On behalf of adoptive moms waiting for their little ones, thank you!

Haley said...

melanie--

so glad to find your blog. congrats!!!!

haley sorensen

The Chapman's said...

We were delighted to watch your performance and see what a signiture smile you have as you carry all that weight! you are amazing...it's a priviledge to know your family and share the love of the gospel together! best of luck in getting back to mommyhood....

The Chapman's said...

We were delighted to watch your performance and see what a signiture smile you have as you carry all that weight! you are amazing...it's a priviledge to know your family and share the love of the gospel together! best of luck in getting back to mommyhood....